News: Scientists Compete in Dance Your PhD Contest

John Bohannon, blogger and contributing writer for Science magazine, is admittedly a scientist, not a dancer, but he is the creator of an online dance contest that is quickly becoming a worldwide sensation. This year marks the third annual Dance Your PhD Contest, an interpretative-dance video contest open to anyone with a PhD or pursuing one in a science-related field. The contest, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, asks scientists to describe their research through dance, videotape it and post their videos online.


“Scientists are competitive by nature, and it turns out that many of them dance,” says Bohannon. “Usually when scientists try to explain their research, it’s a jargon-filled mess, but watching scientists dance their research can make it easier to understand. Sometimes it’s even beautiful––or at least hilarious.”


The first contest in 2008, a single live event, received only 12 submissions, but after moving the 2009 contest online, more than 100 videos from across the globe were posted. This year, submissions (due September 1) will be divided into categories (physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences), and each category’s winner will receive $500 and have their video screened at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City in mid-October. There, a panel of judges and the audience will determine the best overall dance, which will receive an additional $500 grand prize.


Info:, and click here to see last year’s Dance Your PhD winners.


Photo: A scene from Tufts University student Lara Park's 2009 Dance Your PhD entry (by Joanie Tobin, courtesy of Tufts University)

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.